This super-sized drone has several tricks up its sleeve

Aerone’s super-sized drone appears to have come a long way since we last saw it lifting a skydiver high into the air for a jump almost a year ago.

The Latvia-based drone developer has been busy refining the design and equipping the flying machine with various tools that allow it to perform a variety of tasks.

These include wind turbine maintenance, where the drone can wash and de-ice a turbine’s blades using high-pressure hoses. Such work is currently carried out by humans and takes much time and effort to complete, but Aerones believes its drone can revolutionize the process, lowering costs by improving efficiency.

As you can see from the image below, this is more than just a large drone with a hose attached. Aerones’ machine includes multiple sensors for precise angle determination, safety mechanisms such as constant monitoring of motor and battery temperature, ultra-HD and thermal cameras to pinpoint hotspots and aid pilot control, built-in radar technology to avoid obstacles even if shrouded in fog or smoke, and several parachutes in case the drone malfunctions while in the air. In addition, Aerones describes its drone as “rock steady” in strong winds, thanks to its unique stabilization system.

aerones super sized drone for industry wind turbine
Aerones
Aerones

The all-important hose runs between the drone and a water supply from down below, which could be supplied via a truck or a ship. Power is supplied via a cable linked to a power source from the same truck or ship and allows the machine to fly for as long as required. It also has an internal battery that enables it to stay airborne for up to 20 minutes.

Depending on the size of turbine’s blades and the wind conditions, Aerones says its system could clean or de-ice 30 blades (10 turbines) in the space of a single day.

The machine can also use its cameras to inspect the blades before and after a clean to identify areas where maintenance may be required. Aerones says a pre-wash inspection flight “gives information on the kind of dirt on the blade, which allows you to estimate the cleaning time, let you see any damage, imperfection, crack or hole in the blade.”

Meanwhile, a post-wash flight lets you confirm the cleanliness of the blade after washing, and could expose damage that was unclear when the blade was dirty.

Aerones is also working on other applications for its drone. These include cleaning the outside of tall buildings, fighting fires in high places, and, with the drone able to lift up to 400 pounds (180 kg), carrying humans to safety in search and rescue efforts in locations where ground-based vehicles and helicopters can’t reach.

The three-year-old company is continuing with efforts to attract funding while developing and testing its technology in a number of countries around the world. The short-term plan is to offer drone services to customers instead of selling the system as a kit, though that approach could change as its work progresses.

A growing number of companies are developing drone platforms aimed at improving efficiency across a range of industries, with a Goldman Sachs report describing it as “a $100 billion business opportunity” over the next five years.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Product Review

The Division 2 brings the most fun we've ever had to Washington, D.C.

After 55 hours with The Division 2, it’s clear that Ubisoft has improved on the original in almost every way. The world is richly detailed, the story missions are wonderful, gunplay and enemy design are great, and the endgame content is…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.